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The North Bend Eagle


Morse Bluff pastor
The Rev. Jeremy Hazuka is the new pastor at Morse Bluff's two area Catholic churches.

Hazuka fills Bluffs pulpits

by Nathan Arneal
Published 7/18/08

Not many people leave Bellwood, Nebraska, population 446, and end up working someplace even smaller.

That’s the situation for the Rev. Jeremy Hazuka, and he doesn’t mind one bit.
Hazuka, pronounced HUH-zuka if you know how to pronounce Czech names and ha-ZU-ka if you don’t, assumed pastoral duties at Morse Bluff’s St. George and Cedar Hill’s Sacred Heart Catholic churches in mid-June.

After growing up in south Omaha, Hazuka, 39, studied mechanical engineering for a few years at UNL before going to seminary in Toronto and Yonkers, New York.

After his 1997 ordination, he was an assistant pastor for two years in Lincoln and a year in Wahoo. While in Wahoo, he got his first taste of the Morse Bluff area, celebrating Mass at St. George’s and dining in North Bend.

His next stop was in Bellwood, where he served as pastor for six years before moving on to a small parish in Nebraska City and was principal at Lourdes High School.

Hazuka doesn’t mind leaving Nebraska City, population 7,200, for Morse Bluff, population 134.

“(In Nebraska City) it was more like the way city folk treat you, basically ignore you,” he said. “Whereas here everyone knows everything about you. I guess that’s the difference, realizing that you play a larger role in people’s lives than in a larger city.”

Armed with a masters degree in educational administration, Hazuka will also serve as principal at Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, as did his Morse Bluff predecessor, Rev. Brian Kane. Hazuka said his favorite part about working in a school is observing teachers and seeing education happen right in front of him.

“(School administration) has its days,” he said. “There are days where a lot of good things happen; there are days when it’s a pain in the rump.”

Though he sometimes feels his parish and school duties can tug him in opposite directions, he also recognizes that doubling up on duties like this is what allows small parishes to have priests. He said he thinks people understand.

“If you go to other places within the country, parishes like Morse Bluff and Cedar Hill, there would be no one to man them,” Hazuka said. “They would be consolidated with a larger parish. A county like Saunders County would have a couple of parishes instead of the nine we have now.”

During his first month on the job, he has enjoyed getting to know his own parishes as well as the larger Morse Bluff-North Bend community.

He has visited with Rev. Don Cleary of St. Charles in North Bend and looks forward to further cooperation between the churches on either side of the Platte. He has been to North Bend to donate blood and shop for groceries at the Mini Mart. All the while, he thanks God for the opportunity to serve Morse Bluff.

“There is a lot of goodness that comes from being in a small community.”

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